Artisan Organization: Nicaragua Carpenters
Country: Central America
"I'm Paul Mohally and I live in Nicaragua, where I set up a carpentry workshop in my community. My hometown is located in a forested area where many of the people are woodcutters.
"A project was founded here to create alternative sustainable jobs for community lumberjacks so they could work with tropical hardwoods, preserve the forests and avoid clandestine tree cutting. We seek to showcase the wood's natural beauty and also train people as artisans who transform this precious resource to create a sustainable source of income.
"In our community, many people work with wood because they don't have other options ‚Äî there are no jobs or access to credit to buy seed ‚Äî so they cut down trees and split wood to survive. There are three carpenters who now work full time to carve wood. Because of our lack of resources, we haven't yet been able create more jobs.
"One of our biggest challenges is the low level of education among the lumberjacks and it's been difficult to train them in carpentry. Thanks to the elementary and middle school classes for adults on weekends, they are advancing. The carpenters now have a better understanding of math and analysis, which helps them in the workshop and allows them to develop designs.
"The carpenters work inside of the community without needing to travel elsewhere or migrate to the capital. This is an important example of what they can do with their own resources and sustainability. The carpenters have built their own houses and made improvements. Although they haven't yet completed their own education, their children are studying and their quality of life has improved. Our group has also crafted new windows and doors for our community church.
"Our work is beautiful. We work in a rural area and are surrounded by the forest, which is fun because we're sometimes visited by the wildlife there. We've already been visited by a parrot and an anteater. The other day I was working and saw a snake's tail above my head, but I had to finish my task before I would deal with this 'friendly' visit!
"I create the designs, templates and tools or machines so the work can be completed a little faster. I teach my helpers and we all work together ‚Äî I love what we do! Our art is related to Nicaraguan culture because it's a country of immense natural beauty that is reflected in the wood with which we work. We are careful to buy only sustainably-harvested wood and try to reuse as many things as possible.""